2019-11-14 - Lunch with a Side of Tarantula


Pepper and Tony have a working lunch, and Tony is introduced to Arananet, Keiko's spirit spider that has claimed a spot on Pepper's arm. It was… not a well received introduction.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Thu Nov 14 04:13:10 2019
Location: Stark Industries - Executive Office

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Considering the day to day operations of Stark Tower (not even taking all of SI into account), it's no surprise that Pepper doesn't catch Tony more than briefly with any regularity. This is one of those uncommon moments, though, and really only because she scheduled it so they could talk about work over lunch.

Having long since learned what works best when setting a meal down in front of the inventor, today's lunch mostly vaguely resembles chicken nuggets and french fries… if the chicken nuggets were hand breaded and perfectly fried, and the french fries were made from a far wider variety of vegetables than just potato. Pepper, perhaps a bit surprisingly, is eating the same thing, though with the addition of a small salad.

"… and I know how /fascinating/ it is, but it really would be a tremendous help to me if you'd attend the quarterly finance meeting next week," Pepper is saying before she takes a sip from the straw of what looks like a mostly-melted, frothy purple milkshake. She sets the drink back down, the wide silver bracelet around her left wrist sliding a bit as she does so.

Tony was wearing a Led Zeppelin t-shirt, his shades were on the table, the Iron Man suit was in the corner, just waiting on the maintenance and of course, Tony has been treated to chicken nuggets and slightly healthier fries. She might has well have gone to a ripoff McDonalds, but at least the Chicken nuggets have been masterfully crafted.

Pepper always was a bit of a stickler like that.

But, Tony eats one of the nuggets and seems to sigh happily. If all he could do was absolutely nothing while he eats stuff like this, it would not be a wasted life. But he did look at Pepper when she invites him proper to a finance meeting.

"Joy." Tony says as he pinches the bridge of his nose. "Fine, fine. I'll go, but I fully expect to be able to eat a cheeseburger in the middle of it."

Tony's acquiescence earns him a delighted smile from Pepper. "I'll have them catered in from Shake Shack." Yes, that means everyone will be getting burgers at the meeting, but Tony will definitely get his choice of food and can eat it at the meeting table, too.

"I also have the notes of thanks from SHIELD's WAND office for those custom containers that JARVIS fabricated for them," she says as she turns in her chair to reach for something in her bag that's resting on the floor. As she turns, a fuzzy, red-brown tarantula — whose body reaches from the base of her neck nearly to her waist — can be seen clinging to the back of her jacket.

Tony smiles then. "Perfect, then at least it won't be nearly as boring as-" Pepper turns to reveal a freaking humongous Tarantula and Tony's eyes actually go wide. "WHAT THE HELL?!" Tony actually stands up for a minute.

"Pepper, you have a gigantic damn spider on your back. Hold still, I'll just get the armor and rip it off." Tony is already moving for the armor and about to tell JARVIS to put the place on lockdown.

Tony's exclamation causes Pepper to startle, which makes the spider hold up its front-most two legs in an attempt at looking intimidating. "What? OH. No, Tony, it's fine, really." She's holding up her hands to reassure him.

"Arananet, didn't I ask you to tell me if you wanted to stretch your legs?" she says over her shoulder, clearly talking to the freaking huge spider, who waves those same two front-most legs as if replying. She looks at Tony again. "Will you give me a chance to explain before you try to hurt her and likely injure me in the process?"

Perhaps feeling the spider shift her weight, Pepper reaches her hand to touch one of those furry front legs. "No, stay there. Please. Don't run, it'll be fine."

Tony looks at Pepper, stopping with his finger literally touching the armor's chestpiece, which recognizes him and it opens in preparation. "Really? You're going to explain to me why there's a spider the size of your torso on your back? Just be happy Wanda isn't here to see this, or you'd both be toast."

Tony crosses his arms then, waiting to hear an explanatino that'll be…-just rich-.

Seriously, this should be extremely amusing. Tony doesn't deal with this stuff often, but considering that she named it (or it already had a name), Tony is just…not going to be easy to explain.

"Arananet is a spirit animal. You've met WAND agents Koa Turner and Keiko Kurita, yes?" She gestures, and JARVIS helpfully offers images of the two agents, likely from when they were in the office just a couple of days ago. Because of the quality of the still image, Keiko's multiple tattoos are very easy to see.

"Agent Kurita's tattoos are magically imbued, allowing her to summon the spirit of the animal depicted. But, and I'm not fully sure I understood this part, she said there's a corruption of some sort she has to remove from herself, and she wanted the animal spirits safely out of the way while she did that. That's what the containers were for, to house the spirits in the meantime."
At this point, Pepper gently pulls on the spider's leg and gets the arachnid to climb off of her back and onto her lap. "They came to my office to accept the containers, and wanted to test one out to make sure they worked, so they put Arananet into it. It worked perfectly, until Keik—Agent Kurita suffered a dizzy spell from the separation and the spider got out of the container before they could seal it. She climbed on to my arm… Go on, I know you don't want to but I'd really appreciate it if you did," she says to the spider, tapping her left wrist. The spider reaches those front two legs to Pepper's arm, dissolves into smoke that wafts up against her wrist, and then there's a photorealistic tattoo of the same spider there.

"Agent Turner tried to remove her from my arm the same way they did from Keiko's, but Arananet /really/ didn't want to. I offered to let her stay."

Okay, tattoo spider. Got it. Christ, Tony wants nothing to do with it and its written all over his expression. "I swear, you're not allowed to hangout with WAND agents ever again. I mean, really Pepper? You're gonna play host to a spider-spirit?" Yes, Tony is making it sound worse than it actually is, but she's talking to one of the reigning champions of paranoia here.

It is that bad, in his eyes.

"Ugh." Tony just takes his seat again, pinching the bridge of his nose. He looks a mix between irritated and exasperated. "Just don't let it leap on people."

"Well, she's got a mind of her own, and we're still trying to come to an agreement." In other words, the spider still very much does as she pleases. Pepper woke up this morning to her apartment in rather a mess, because apparently Arananet chose to spend a few hours exploring. Thankfully, she didn't open the fridge.

"But I will do my absolute best to keep her from scaring anyone. Another reason why I really want you to be at that finance meeting next week, in case I have to conference in instead of being there in person."

See? it all comes full circle.

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